IT’S a proud day for West Somerset sci-fi fans – today marks the birthday of Minehead-born science fiction author, inventor and futurist Arthur Charles Clarke.

Best known for his famous novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, which went on to be adapted into an Oscar winning film directed by Stanley Kubrick.

AC Clarke was born in Minehead in 1917, later moving to a farm at Ballifants near Bishops Lydeard. He attended Richard Huish’s Grammar School in Taunton where he showed an early interest in science and space, building his first telescope when he was just 13. After serving in the RAF as a radar instructor, Clarke went on to become chairman of the British Interplanetary Society, and devised a system of geo-stationary satellites upon which all modern communication systems are now designed.

Clarke emigrated to Sri Lanka in 1956 to pursue his interest in scuba diving, but was always proud of his Somerset roots, returning in 1992 on his 75th birthday when he was made the first Freeman of Minehead.

During his time he wrote dozens of books including works including non-fiction works about rocketry and space flight and a host of science fiction novels including Prelude to Space and The Fountains of Paradise.

He died on March 19, 2008, aged 90 and would have been 93 if he were alive today.